The Ministry of Food and Agriculture, in collaboration with the Youth Employment Agency (YEA), is working to empower and support the youth to make careers in agriculture.
Speaking at the launch of the Youth in Agriculture Conference held at the University of Ghana on Wednesday, the Minister for Food and Agriculture, Dr Bryan Acheampong, indicated that within the development agenda of Ghana, agriculture is identified as one of the economic pillars. It is obvious that the nexus between agriculture development and Ghana’s ability to achieve its food security goals are inextricably linked.
The Youth in Agriculture Programme will be led by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) in collaboration with the Youth Employment Agency (YEA) as part of the Planting for Food and Jobs Phase II Initiative (PFJ II). Phase II of the PFJ programme aims to empower and support young individuals to engage in commercial crop farming. This initiative addresses the challenges young farmers face in securing land and resources for farming.
It focuses on promoting commercial farming, igniting passion among youth and creating sustainable employment opportunities. MoFA and YEA intend to initiate the project in Wenchi, located in the Bono region, with plans for rapid expansion across the country. The project is expected to make significant contributions to food and nutrition security, reduce inflation, and GDP growth and create sustainable employment opportunities for youth in agriculture.
Under this programme, beneficiary farmers will receive training on modern farm management practices and 10 acres each of land already developed for farming under the guidance of experienced aggregators assigned by the project. The beneficiaries will also receive input credit such as seeds, fertilizers, agrochemicals and services such as extension and mechanisation support (ploughing, harrowing, planting, spraying). A monthly stipend covering the first production cycle of the respective agricultural value chain will also be provided to ensure their success.
In terms of marketing, Dr. Bryan said harvested produce would be sold to off-takers, and profits shared between the project and beneficiaries, ensuring sustainability and further boosting the income of beneficiaries. Additionally, the project intends to construct low-cost affordable single-room farm housing facilities, storage houses, adequate water and other support infrastructure within the enclaves to support production.
According to Dr Bryan, the project is targeting 200,000 youth farmers to collectively cultivate and manage over one million acres during the 5-year programme duration.
Each beneficiary will be engaged for 6 months, during which they will receive training and support. It is expected that, by the end of the period, they will have accumulated enough capital and adequate experience to independently manage their fields and cover associated costs for the next production cycle. Successful beneficiaries who meet assigned targets will be encouraged to continue, while the work of those who did not do well will be assessed for support to be able to meet the targets.
The Minister also indicated that a comparative analysis of crop budgets suggests that beneficiaries under the project, will realise over 400% profit margin compared with conventional farmers cultivating the same acreage elsewhere. This is certainly a game-changer for farming in Ghana.